Notes Sophomore Slump Watson of Golf

By Associated PressMarch 4, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 PODS ChampionshipPALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Jeff Quinney, No. 71 in the world ranking, must play well the next few weeks to qualify for the World Golf Championship at Doral and keep alive his hopes of playing the Masters for the first time as a pro.
 
Take away his Nationwide Tour record, and Quinney would be No. 40.
 
Because the world ranking measures two years, Nationwide alumni in their second straight PGA TOUR season still have as many as two dozen Nationwide events on their ledger. In Quinneys situation, it works out like this:
 
  • He has earned 106.35 points in 60 tournaments the last two years for an average of 1.77.
     
  • Without the 24 Nationwide events (worth 7.77 points), he would have 98.58. There is a minimum divisor of 40 events, so his average would be 2.46.
     
    Like many players, Quinneys only concern on the Nationwide Tour was earning enough money to finish in the top 25 and move up to the big leagues. But the PGA TOUR felt the Nationwide was a credible circuit that was worthy of ranking points.
     
    Were aware of the situation, and we knew that as we fought to have the Nationwide Tour included in the world ranking, said Andy Pazder, senior vice president of competition. Where it may be working against Jeff Quinney, it helped him his first year.
     
    Pazder said Quinneys ranking points from the Nationwide last year helped him squeak into the top 100 and earn a spot into the PGA Championship. Two years ago, Zach Johnson won on the PGA TOUR as a rookie, and his Nationwide points (two wins, two second-place finishes) helped him get into the U.S. Open and a world event.
     
    The trade-off is being held back the second season. Stephen Marino is in the same quandary. He has made the cut in all seven events this year and is No. 121 in the world. Remove his Nationwide events and points, and he would be No. 72.
     
    Brandt Snedeker would be at No. 21 in the world, but his Nationwide events pulled his ranking to No. 49. But because he had such a strong rookie season, hes eligible for all majors and world events.
     
    Johnson said he believes credibility for the Nationwide Tour comes from more than ranking points.
     
    You throw in what the players are doing now thats all the credibility you need, he said.
     
    In nearly two decades, 99 players who spent time on the Nationwide Tour have won on the PGA TOUR.
     
    TROUBLE AT BAY HILL
    Players headed to Bay Hill next week have been warned not to expect smooth conditions on the greens.
     
    Due to a severe turf disease and invasion of nematode (tiny worms), the PGA TOUR brought in several agronomy experts to try to mend the putting surfaces for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Some sod plugs were used, and there was a second dose of overseeding a month ago. Although officials say conditions have improved, a notice in the locker room at Innisbrook said conditions would not be ideal.
     
    FEDEX CHANGES
    The new FedExCup playoff points structure might be known as the Rich Beem Rule.
     
    Last year, Beem complained the playoffs did not have enough volatility. He started at No. 134, tied for seventh at The Barclays and only moved up to No. 113. Beem was eliminated a week later when he failed to get inside the top 70.
     
    Under the new points system, Beem would have moved up to No. 69 after one week. Should the No. 144 player win The Barclays, he could move all the way up to No. 1.
     
    PGA TOUR officials said the change should increase the number of chances for players to win the $10 million prize from six to 12 mathematically, and from four to about a half-dozen realistically.
     
    But it should be noted who won last year'Steve Stricker (No. 12), Phil Mickelson (No. 2) and Tiger Woods (No. 1) twice. Not often do so many highly ranked players win so many tournaments played in a row.
     
    If anyone down the list should win a playoff event'No. 50, for example' even more players would be in the mix.
     
    ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR
    Golf fans working a crossword puzzle Feb. 22 in the Chicago Tribune must have thought they were getting old or the standard for fame was getting lower.
     
    The clue for 23-down was Watson of Golf.
     
    It couldnt be the obvious'eight-time major champion Tom Watson'because there were five spaces.
     
    Nor was it Denis Watson, who won three times on the PGA TOUR in 1984.
     
    The correct answer was Bubba.
     
    Hes still looking for his first PGA TOUR victory.
     
    DOTTING THE I
    Ever since felt pens have been in vogue, Joey Sindelar has marked his golf ball with one blue dot above and below the number. But over the last few months, he has switched to a single red dot.
     
    Thats a tribute to his son, Jamie, a high school senior who recently decided to attend Ohio State.
     
    I said to him, When you pick a school, thats going to be the color, said Sindelar, who played for the Buckeyes in the late 1970s.
     
    As he went to mark his ball, Sindelar figured he should incorporate the marching bands tradition of the incomparable Script Ohio at football games.
     
    That red dot is strategically placed over the i in Titleist.
     
    DIVOTS
    Brett Quigley tied for 12th at the Honda Classic and earned $115,500, enough to keep his card the rest of the year and compete in The PLAYERS Championship. Quigley started the season on a minor medical extension because of knee surgery. He had seven events to make $67,769. Scott Verplank enters the PODS Championship with 27 consecutive rounds at par or better. The PGA TOUR record belongs to Tiger Woods, who had 52 straight rounds in 2000-01. The English Open will return to the European Tour schedule next year for the first time since 2002.
     
    STAT OF THE WEEK
    Among PGA TOUR events that have been around at least seven years, the PODS Championship is the only tournament not won by a former Nationwide Tour player.
     
    FINAL WORD
    I didnt realize that Tiger was going to win 10 times since I said that.'Ernie Els, on his three-year plan to overtake Tiger Woods at No. 1 in the world.
     
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  • Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

    Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

    "It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."

    Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.